Facts About Mom

job 42

It seems to be a Mother’s Day staple for elementary school children. All three of my daughters have brought these projects home over the years with “Facts About Mom” (from the child’s perspective.)

I know other moms who have received these treasures and mostly we laugh together over the outrageous things kids say about us.

Like when they get our names wrong (!!!) or guess that we’re either 15 years old or 100, weigh somewhere around 40 pounds and are 20 feet tall.

This year, my kindergartener probably came the closest to giving all the right answers.

What do I love to do?  Read books.
What do I say all the time?  “Don’t fight over the Kindle.”
What is my job?  Writing books and playing the piano at our church.

She did good.

Sometimes my other daughters got it right, too, painfully right in some cases.

Like when one of my daughters described me as “musical, gardener, ….and competitive.”

Competitive?

Ouch.  This is the girl I’ve had to apologize to before because I had fretted and worried over foolish competitions and comparisons and she felt pressure from me when I’m really so proud of her as she is.

What is something your mom always says?  “Do your homework.  Play piano.  Hurry up.  Go to bed.”

Ouch again.

One year on that same assignment, this daughter wrote that I always said, “I love you.”  A year later in her little pencil scribbles on the paper, she wrote down how I always gave instructions.

Why is it so hard to make the words, “I love you” ring truer and louder than the drill sergeant commands of everyday necessity?

What makes your mom mad?  “When everything is out of control and no one listens.

She got me.

Yes.  Isn’t that what smashes down all of my hold-it-together personal strength? Isn’t it what makes me grumpy, short-tempered and anxious?

When everything is out of control….. and I forget that God is in control…. yes, that’s what makes me “mad.”  That’s what God uses to plow right through my heart and break up all of that well-tended ground covering over my insecurities and my deep-down sin of misplaced trust.

Kids can be so wise.

As I hold this year’s Mother’s Day gift, I wonder what would I say about God on a worksheet like this?

Would I get it right?   Not giving the dictionary facts or the Bible study answers.  Not the good church girl responses or the pat Christian phrases that tie Mighty God up in neatly packaged paper with a perfect bow on top.

No: Would I know Him?  Would I know His heart?  What makes Him happy?  What makes Him mad?  What do I love about Him the most and why is He the perfect Father for me?

Or would I get it all wrong?

In the book of Job, one man lost family, friends, servants, status in the community, riches, property, and physical health.  Without sinning, he questioned God.  Why this seeming injustice, he wondered, why this tragedy and pain for a righteous man?

His friends got it all wrong.  They thought they knew God, boxed Him up into super-spiritual-sounding cardboard.

Yet, God remains silent.  He waits.  He listens and doesn’t answer. Finally, after almost 40 chapters of Scripture, God speaks.

In her book Wonderstruck, Margaret Feinberg writes,

Instead of focusing on the Why’s of our life circumstances, God calls our attention back to Him and reminds us of the Who that controls everything (p. 37).

That’s God’s answer to the incessant questions.  He never answers “Why,” but He tells who He is in one thundering declaration after wonderstruckanother of His sovereignty and power over all creation.

It isn’t until the taking away, the sorrow, the mourning and the grief that Job doesn’t just know about God; He knows Who God is.

And that is enough.

Job says, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you” (Job 42:1).  Yes, now he knew, not about God, but now He had seen God with his own eyes (Job 42:5).

We also find intimacy in the silence.

We form intimacy in the listening, the waiting, the mourning, the times when we can’t trust the circumstances, but we can trust the heart of God.

That’s how we learn the “Facts About God,” the binding truths that we cling to when life obscures our divine vision.

Originally published May 15, 2013

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

 

“Facts” About Mom and “Facts” About God:

It seems to be a Mother’s Day staple for elementary school children.  Both of my older daughters made these projects and, according to my Facebook feed, so did the kids of most of my mom friends.002

On Mother’s Day, my daughters presented their handmade creations:  An ice cream cone picture with six adjectives to describe their sweet momma and a worksheet with “Facts About My Mom.”

Mostly as various moms posted their own kids’ responses to similar projects on Facebook, we laughed over the outrageous things kids say about us.

Like when they get our names wrong (!!!) or guess that we’re either 15 years old or 100.

But I opened the handmade gifts on Mother’s Day and didn’t read silly, mistaken or perhaps outrageously funny comments from my kids.

Somehow my daughters got it right.

Sweetly right, but maybe painfully right, too.

(Well, other than the “fact” that I’m probably 20 feet tall and probably weigh 45 pounds.  That’s a little off.)

Yet there were other “facts,” too.

There was the objective data, of course.  Adjectives to describe her mom?  “Married” and “pregnant” made it on the list.  Undeniable truth.

My other girl included “musical, gardener…..and competitive.”

What second grader diagnoses her mom as “competitive?”  My girl.  The one who has heard me apologize for my struggle to her face, and the one I held close while confessing how wrong I was to fret and worry over foolish competitions and how sorry I was that I ever put even one ounce of pressure on her shoulders when I’m so proud of her just as she is.

What does your mom like to wear?  Pants and a sweater.

Simple and sweet truth-telling right there.  Those are my happy clothes.

What is something your mom always says?  Do your homework.  Play piano.  Hurry up.  Go to bed.

Oh, here I pause.  Because last year on this same little assignment, she wrote that her mom always says, “I love you.”  And now here it is in pencil on paper, how I’m always giving instructions, always directing, always focused on getting those daily tasks done.  Why is it so hard to make the words, “I love you” ring truer and louder than the drill sergeant commands of everyday necessity?

What makes your mom mad?  When everything is out of control and no one listens.

When everything is out of control…..

Yes.  Isn’t that what smashes down all of my hold-it-together personal strength? Isn’t it what makes me grumpy, short-tempered and anxious?

When I feel like I’ve lost control so therefore there must be no control, always forgetting that God is in control…. yes, that’s what makes me “mad.”  That’s what God uses to plow right through my heart and break up all of that well-tended ground covering over my insecurities and my deep-down sin attitudes and misplaced trust.

Second graders can be so wise at times.

But I wonder, given a worksheet like this, what would I say about God?

Would I get the “facts” right and answer the questions correctly?  Not giving the dictionary facts or the Bible study answers.  Not the good church girl responses or the pat Christian phrases that tie Mighty God up in neatly packaged paper with a perfect bow on top.

No: Would I know Him?  Would I know His heart?  What makes Him happy?  What makes Him mad?  What do I love about Him the most and why is He the perfect Father for me?

Or would I get it all wrong?

In the book of Job, one man lost family, friends, servants, status in the community, riches, property, and physical health.  And without sinning, he questioned God.  Why this seeming injustice, he wondered, why this tragedy and pain for a righteous man?

Job wants to call God into court and question Him on the witness stand.

Yet, God remains silent.  He waits.  He listens and doesn’t answer. Finally, after almost 40 chapters of Scripture, God speaks.

In her book Wonderstruck, Margaret Feinberg writes,

Instead of focusing on the Why’s of our life circumstances, God calls our attention back to Him and reminds us of the Who that controls everything (p. 37).

That’s God’s answer to the incessant questions.  He never answers “Why,” but He tells who He is in one thundering declaration of sovereignty and power over all creation after another.Wonder Struck

It isn’t until the taking away, the sorrow, the mourning and the grief that Job doesn’t just know about God; He knows Who God is.

And that is enough.

Job says, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you” (Job 42:1).  Yes, now he knew, not about God, but now He had seen God with his own eyes (Job 42:5).

Intimacy in silence.  Intimacy in the listening, the waiting, the mourning.  That’s how we know Him, too.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

After the Parade Passes By

Yesterday, they formed a parade in my honor.

I heard the commotion outside the bathroom door as I finished brushing my teeth on the morning of Mother’s Day.

At the sound of the whispering and shuffling, I opened the door to find three daughters and one husband singing, “Happy Mother’s Day to you…” their own take on the familiar birthday tune.

My youngest waved two hand-made flags, my oldest led the singing with her present in hand, my middle girl smiled in her Groucho Marx funny glasses.  They had as021signed my husband a triangle and given him handwritten sheet music so he knew when to play his notes.

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day, dear Mommy. (tap, tap)

Happy Mother’s Day to you. (tap, tap, tap)

They labored with love and presented handmade gifts, so thoughtful and sweet, and they were so proud of their offerings.  More than just handwritten notes, they had created dot-to-dot puzzles and coloring sheets for me with hidden messages.

All day my daughters fussed at me for pouring the cereal, clearing the table, or buckling my youngest girl’s seatbelt.

You shouldn’t have to do anything today, Mom.  That’s what my middle girl assured me.

Mother’s Day, all that recognition and thanks, all those assurances that the daily grind that has ground you right down is noticed and worth it and they appreciate it after all and maybe all those times you felt invisible someone actually saw you, that’s such a beautiful gift to a woman.  It fills her soul right up so that she’s able to pour out more.

Parades, though, all have endings.  A final float, the Santa sleigh or the police escort brings up the rear and everyone packs up their lawn chairs and bags of candy and treks back to their cars.

And we wake up the day after Mother’s Day and love without the flags and songs.

The phone is ringing, the laundry spinning, the dishwasher humming, and I’m running through the to-do list today.

But it’s when I scrub the toilet, of all things, that I remember as I grumble a little with that silent whine that no one else knows about except God.

How it must sadden Him so, how disappointed He must be by my heart’s ugly attitude as I serve, as I wash feet without joy and give without cheerfulness of heart.

There I scrub, bleach poured out and I’m working fast just to get it all done, when I remember—yesterday, they made a parade for me.

These gifts of God, my family so precious, those I watched last night after they were in deep sleep, breathing slow, hair tangled all over pillows, fleece blankets wrapped tight like cocoons around them.  I remember that I had prayed such deep thanks for these blessings.

And I felt so overwhelmed by that grace we can’t ever understand, how God trusted me with these daughters and the love of this husband.  This is the great privilege and highest honor.

Serving with joy, that’s my heart bent deep in gratitude to God.

It all feels easier for a while because I remember.  The laundry and the toilets and scrubbing the toothpaste off that sink: this isn’t mundane and annoying.  It’s the blessing and the gift.

But the challenge is here: How to remember the parade a week from now, a month, this time next year?  It’s always in those moments after the high of a mountaintop that we can crash right down the hardest because we have the farthest to fall.

Like Elijah, sitting on that mountain all alone after defeating 450 prophets of Baal in a spiritual showdown with supernatural fire.  It was after the victory that he ran away in fear.  After all that boldness, there was terror and loneliness and suicidal despair.

How could he forget, I wonder?

Maybe he hadn’t learned to live without the parade.

Sometimes God speaks in the whirlwind, the earthquake and the fire.  Sometimes it’s grand and showy.

But not always.

Oh no, sometimes it’s that “still small voice” and this we forget in the days long after the Mother’s Day parade when we’ve started to feel a little overlooked and invisible again.  We forget how to see God in the quiet and the everyday.

Zechariah 4:10 asks: “Who dares despise the day of small things?”

The small things, the quiet ways, the stillness, the everyday, the service without parades, the scrubbing down bathrooms without whining….that’s where we can find beauty, where we hear God, where our worship brings Him joy.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Loving with Kisses, Band-Aids, and so much more

I fought the good fight.

I lost.

Every one of my daughters went through the Band-Aid stage and maybe still haven’t outgrown it.006

They fall for the magic of the Band-Aid for all bumps, bruises, minor aches, pains, and scratches.

I gave speeches and endured the tantrums.

You don’t need a Band-Aid for any casualty that doesn’t involve an open wound and significant blood loss.  That’s what I tell them in my all-knowing Mom-voice.

But still they cried and screamed about the unendurable pain and suffering with all the logic and reasoning of a thoroughly traumatized two-year-old.  Finally, in exasperation I handed them what was essentially a sticker to pop over a bruise.

They were miraculously cured.  No more pain or sobbing.  In fact, the impact of the Band-Aid was immediate.  It didn’t even need to contact their skin; the simple sight of me snatching the box down from the cabinet calmed them down instantly.

Maybe it wasn’t the Band-Aid they needed; I know this.  Perhaps it was the acknowledgement: I see you hurting.  I’m tending to this need.  I’m not going to leave you here aching alone, wounds sore, pain throbbing. 

This is, after all, why Mom-kisses on the tiniest of boo-boos are where the miracle cures begin.  Because the love and attention and the simply doing something–anything– says, “I love you,” louder than any three words can.

And this is the Mom-life, the life of nurses, care providers, teachers,  grandmas, and true friends.  It’s saying, “I care about you,” and meaning it at night when it costs you sleep and during the day when it costs you patience.

It means never pouring a cup of tea or a soda and drinking it all down yourself.  It means spending all day putting other people first and scheduling every moment of your life around the schedules of other people.

“Motherhood is the big-leagues of self-sacrifice.” That’s what Rachel Jankovic wrote recently.

And this is the sacrifice, she tells me, that God finds such a sweet-smelling aroma.  It’s when we’re laying ourselves down and offering that life to others, burning up selfishness on the altar as our worship to Him.

Really, in the end, shouldn’t I rejoice over those moments when a kiss and a Band-Aid are all it took to comfort and assuage?  This world pesters and pounds, and wounds aren’t always so superficial and easy-to-heal.  Sometimes they dig deep.  Sometimes they fester and infect; they spread and ache long after we’ve bandaged over them.

So our calling becomes this: loving others enough to care about the depth of the pain and not just covering over with a Band-Aid when they need so much more.

Sure, we could snatch that trusty and true box down from the cabinet shelf and toss a sticky bandage over a hurt.  We could rush this and move on.  All better.  Stop your crying.  No need to fuss.  Don’t you see the Band-Aid I’ve slapped on your skin?

This is what Queen Esther did, unknowingly, of course.  She heard of her cousin Mordecai’s distress.  How he had torn apart his clothes and now sat at the city gate, covered over with burlap and ashes, wailing with loud bitterness.

She responded with concern, but without listening and understanding.  Yes, she essentially snatched down the box of Band-Aids and sent one his way:  “She sent clothes for Mordecai to wear so he could take off his sackcloth, but he did not accept them” (Esther 4:4 HCSB).

That’s what she thought would help, just superficial care.  Change your clothes.  Stop that mourning, Mordecai, and everything will be well.

But he needed so much more.  He needed her to put her life on the line for her entire people by interceding with the king.  Mordecai needed self-sacrifice, unselfishness, and humility.  A change of clothes simply wasn’t enough.

When we love, we’re willing to tend with care also: to take the time, to make the time, to thrust our hands into a hemorrhaging wound, if necessary, and become a right bloody mess in order to stop the bleeding out.

Jesus didn’t leave us desperately sick and dying.  If he had only healed some physical hurts, if he had simply taught some important truths, if he had solely righted a few social injustices, he would have given Band-Aid care for a terminal disease.

Yet, Jesus did more, sacrificing His life for ours, because he knew we needed radical intervention to save our dying selves.

And then He asks us to live this life of love:  

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).

Loving with Band-Aids some days.  Loving with time and attention on others.  Loving with messy healing and laying ourselves down at times.

But loving like Jesus always.

Happy Mother’s Day, National Nurses Week, and Teacher Appreciation Week to all of you!!!
Thank you for all your care and sacrifice for others.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King